165-4 DSA News

Last Call for Dinner

The 58th Debs — Thomas — Harrington Dinner is coming very soon: Friday, May 20. If you plan to attend, now is the time to get your tickets. We really need to know by Tuesday, May 17th, as the hotel needs to know how many meals to prepare.

We’re honoring Michael Lighty and Jorge Mújica, and we have a tremendous keynote speaker: Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza. For more information and to order tickets online, CLICK HERE.

The Sanders Campaign and Beyond

by Bob Roman

On Saturday, May 7, over 70 people gathered at the Midwest office of National Nurses United to consider the future of the movement for socialism inspired by Bernie Sander’s campaign. Much to the surprise of some late arrivals, it started on time and stayed pretty much on time for the rest of the three hours. It was a capacity crowd. Many of the late arrivals ended up seated on the floor.


The Sanders Campaign and Beyond: An Introduction

by Ian Hartman

If you are here today, chances are you’ve been in some way stirred, energized, or moved to action by the Sanders campaign. This has proven to be an historic election — not just because Sanders has so successfully channeled the immense dissatisfaction that people feel with the political status quo, but because his campaign has helped carve out a space where we can really start to question and organize against the common sense that has constrained the horizons of American politics.


Stop the TPP

Chicago DSA and Greater Oak Park DSA have begun a postcard petition campaign directed at the Illinois Congressional delegation, urging the Senators and Representatives to vote against the TPP when it finally comes up for a vote. We collected signed postcards at the May 7th Sanders event, at the Logan Square Farmers Market today, and at the upcoming Debs — Thomas — Harrington Dinner. We’ll be doing this at other venues throughout the summer. If you’d like to help, give the office a call: 773.384.0327.

DSA in the News

Paul Street continued to wish Bernie Sanders (and, in passing, DSA) would go away, leaving the field open for real revolutionaries, at Counterpunch. Also at Counterpunch, Howie Hawkins wished Bernie Sanders (and, in passing, DSA) would go away, leaving the field open for the Green Party. Ethan Corey at In These Times credits DSA as being among the organizations organizing the post-Sanders campaign Peoples Summit. Also at In These Times, Douglas Williams mentions DSA in passing in an argument against Clinton.

Apropos of May Day, the BBC interviewed Joseph Schwartz, identifying him as a Vice-Chair of DSA, on Newshour, about 16 minutes in.

Dan La Botz mentions DSA in passing in a survey of the Latin American and European Left at New Politics.

In reporting on the post-primary Sanders movement, Joseph Schwartz was quoted with the DSA Vice-Chair ID, by Peter Nicholas at The Wall Street Journal.

The Wesleyan Student Assembly voted in favor raising the minimum wage on campus, supported by the Wesleyan YDS chapter, as reported by Erica DeMichiel at The Wesley Argus. Aviv has a report on the campaign, mentioning DSA, at Wesleying.


The Sanders Campaign and Beyond

by Bob Roman

On Saturday, May 7, over 70 people gathered at the Midwest office of National Nurses United to consider the future of the movement for socialism inspired by Bernie Sander’s campaign. Much to the surprise of some late arrivals, it started on time and stayed pretty much on time for the rest of the three hours. It was a capacity crowd. Many of the late arrivals ended up seated on the floor.

The meeting was structured around a series of presentations grouped around topics (e.g. neoliberalism, democratic socialism), followed by question and answer sessions. The speakers included Ian Hartman, David Schweickart, Tobita Chow, Emily Rosenberg, Bill Barclay, Jan Rodolfo, Bill Bianchi, Fran Tobin, Peg Strobel, and as a panel: Emma Cone-Roddy, Ian Hartman, Alex McLeese, and Tom Broderick.

The number of speakers meant the Q&A sessions were necessarily limited, and we were fairly insistent that it be questions, not speeches. As lefties love time on the soapbox, everyone felt the lack and most especially those who came the event with an agenda. But time was a limited resource, and this was probably the event’s biggest flaw.

The next biggest was that the participant demographics tended to reflect the left generally, even if a majority of the attendees were new to DSA. There were a scattering of minorities: A few Blacks, Hispanics and south Asians. While majority male, there was better gender balance and more youth than is typical of lefty events.

Some of those with an agenda might assert the event’s biggest flaw was that it was organized by Chicago DSA. It was, however, cosponsored by National Nurses United, The People’s Lobby, Progressive Democrats of America, and the Alliance for Community Services.

The Sanders Campaign and Beyond: An Introduction

by Ian Hartman

If you are here today, chances are you’ve been in some way stirred, energized, or moved to action by the Sanders campaign. This has proven to be an historic election — not just because Sanders has so successfully channeled the immense dissatisfaction that people feel with the political status quo, but because his campaign has helped carve out a space where we can really start to question and organize against the common sense that has constrained the horizons of American politics.

Sanders has not just given us rhetoric. He has articulated a set of concrete demands and proposals that buck against the consensus politics of both the Republican and Democratic parties: demands for a living wage, for universal healthcare, free public higher ed, and progressive taxation, to name just a few. He’s done this while actually naming the “billionaire class” as a political enemy, and while identifying himself, without shame, as a “democratic socialist.”

In a very real sense, then, the Sanders campaign has helped to mainstream opposition to neoliberal capitalism, broaden our political vocabulary, and abet the fight for genuine alternatives.

Yet as Sanders himself has repeatedly emphasized, this fight does not rest on the electoral fate of a single presidential candidate. It rests on our ability to organize a mass political movement that can build upon and carry forward the possibilities opened up by the Sanders moment.

So what we’re hear to discuss today isn’t the democratic primary, or the election in November. We’re hear to discuss a much broader set of questions. What we do with this sense of openness? How do we build on this burgeoning opposition to the widening inequalities hardwired into our society? How do we channel the excitement around Sanders toward a sustainable movement for genuine political and social transformation?

Our speakers today will help us to grapple with these questions by putting the Sanders campaign in its broader context. We’ll hear about the crisis of neoliberal capitalism, the openings and the limits of the Sanders platform, and the meaning and history of democratic socialism. We’ll also hear about the challenges facing political organizers today, and the strategies they use to fight for change. These are the kinds of discussions we’ll need to keep having in the days to come. It’s our hope that by the end of the day, we’ll have taken one small step toward imagining and building the movement we need to get us to the future we want.

165-4 Politics

Socialism at the People’s Summit

At Democratic Left, David Duhalde writes:

The People’s Summit differentiates itself from other left-wing political gatherings by going beyond the recycled debates currently represented by “Bernie or Bust” (i.e., third-party/protest vote) versus the “Popular Front against Trump” (i.e., just vote against Republicans). The thousands of participants will network and work to build a People’s Platform, a unifying political statement that can used to hold elected officials accountable.

The purpose of the People’s Summit is not creating any single new party or coalition. But many of the participating organizations represent people we’d want and expect in a future socialist party. These activists represent a microcosm of the best Sanders campaign supporters. Therefore, socialists should prioritize joining this chance to bond with thousands of activists open to our ideas and socialists. Together, we can construct a post-Bernie alliance is more democratically accountable than previous post-presidential election formations.


Chicago’s Resistance to Police Reform

The Chicago political news site, Aldertrack, has issued a report looking at the recent history of how Chicago politicians have been dealing with the issue of police reform. Their conclusion (not surprisingly as this is Chicago) is that most of the players are really, really not ready to deal with the issue:

… since Mayor Emanuel’s December 2015 speech, the consensus among reformers, from law enforcement insiders to African-American youth organizers, from pastors on the city’s South and West Sides to academics who study policing policy for a living, has remained consistent: Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council lack the political will to do what is necessary to reform the Chicago Police Department.

Building on a year of reporting and interviews in City Hall and across Chicago, this report focuses on three ways Chicago has missed opportunities for reform: Mayor Emanuel’s record of dodging police reform, City Council’s choice to remain inactive and how the police superintendent selection process was upended by political expediency.


Note that the next episode of Talkin’ Socialism will deal with the Community Renewal Society’s proposal for a police auditor to keep an eye on whatever entity Chicago has to deal with complaints against police.

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too

There’s no real magic to having a 501c4 “social welfare” organization spend all its money on elections. At Open Secrets, Robert Maguire reveals the trick. He begins:

Ever hear the one about the social welfare organization that was punished by the IRS for its political activity? The lawyer who got the letter was so shocked by the news, he forgot to thank the flying pig that delivered it.

If you’re thinking to yourself, but wait, I’ve heard that nonprofit organizations are subject to strict oversight by the IRS and the FEC, and there are rules that forbid such groups — which don’t have to disclose their donors to the public — from devoting more than half of their activity to politics, then first of all, you’re adorable.


165-4 Democratic Socialism

Toward a Cooperative Commonwealth

At The Next System, Jessica Gordon Nembhard examines the elements of such a system. She begins:

The  next  system  that  we  need,  and  that  hopefully  we  are  moving  toward,  is  a  cooperative commonwealth within interlocking local solidarity economies. Such a system is created from the  bottom  up,  building  upon  multiple  grassroots  cooperative  enterprises,  and  democratic community-based economic practices. These networks collaborate and federate from the local to municipal, regional, national, and international levels.

 MORE. (pdf)

165-3 DSA News

Making a Political Revolution

Excited about Bernie Sanders? Want to join the political revolution? Come to our May 7th forum on movement building beyond the election! We’ll discuss the significance of the Sanders campaign, the meaning of democratic socialism, and strategies for confronting exploitation and inequality at the state and national level. We’ll also offer skills training on coalition building and grassroots organizing. Together, we’ll plan ways to channel the renewed interest in democratic socialism toward a sustainable movement for political transformation. There’s never been a more exciting or vital time to work for change. Join us in the fight!

Where: National Nurses United, 850 W. Jackson, Chicago

When: Saturday, May 7, 10 AM to 1 PM

Co-sponsored by Alliance for Community Services, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, National Nurses United, and Progressive Democrats of America.

Rauner’s Road to Perdition

The 58th Debs — Thomas — Harrington Dinner will be Friday evening, May 20, at the Crown Plaza Chicago Metro, Madison & Halsted in Chicago. Our keynote speaker is Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza and we’ll be honoring National Nurses United’s Public Policy Director, Michael Lighty, and Chicago labor and immigrant rights activist Jorge Mújica. Tickets are $80. Tickets can be ordered online at the Dinner web page or, if you prefer, by mail. For a printable (PDF) order form, CLICK HERE.

DSA in the News

Chicago ex-pat Eric Fink’s campaign for the North Carolina Senate and DSA were written up in an article by Paul Blest at Indy Week.

DSA was mentioned in connection with the late Bogdan Denitch in Ian Williams’ column at Tribune Magazine.

DSA got mentioned in passing in a post-Sanders speculation by Geoff Gilbert at Truthout. At MSNBC, Alex Seitz-Wald provided  a heads up about the upcoming People’s Summit in Chicago, mentioning (“and then there’s”) DSA. A similar article by Kate Aronoff also mentioned DSA at Rolling Stone. Paul Street dismisses Bernie Sanders and, in passing, DSA at Counterpunch.

Madeline Cohen included an extensive quote from DSA member Theresa Alt in a Cornell Sun article about the Sanders campaign in Tompkins County, New York.

Stephanie Block affirms to conservatives that socialism by any name is really bad, using DSA and Cornel West, as props at Spero News. At Maine Wire (a newsletter of the Maine Heritage Policy Center), John Frary mentions DSA in connection with research on the minimum wage. DSA is quoted by B.K. Marcus in a discussion of democracy and socialism at The Freeman.

Talkin’ Socialism

Episode 63 Good Jobs, Clean Jobs, and Nuclear Energy in Illinois
Recorded April 25, 2016. Tom Broderick interviews David Kraft, director and a founder of the Nuclear Energy Information Service. Kraft discusses the state of the nuclear energy industry in Illinois and the ongoing efforts by various interests to pass their own versions of a “Clean Jobs” bill. This legislation would create thousands of jobs by increasing energy efficiency, developing renewable energy sources, and meeting or exceeding EPA carbon emission standards. (37:27)

Religious Socialism

Chicago DSA member Brian Noe is among those producing a new podcast for DSA’s Religion and Socialism Commission. The first episode is a conversation with Professor Gary Dorrien, who teaches social ethics at Union Theological Seminary. The sound file is available through iTunes and Soundcloud.

Voter Registration and Turnout Among Young Voters

by Tom Suhrbur

In the 2016 election, control of the most powerful nation on earth is at stake. Americans will not only elect a new president but the political make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court will be determined. A Republican presidential victory will give conservatives complete control over all three branches of the federal government. Voter turnout will decide the direction that the nation takes. The U.S. has one of the lowest voter turnouts among the democratic nations of the world. According to Pew Research, the U.S. in 2012 had the 32nd lowest voter turnout of the 35 wealthiest democracies. Increasing voter participation can have a major impact on world events.

Voter turnouts are highest in presidential elections; turnouts drop off significantly in mid-term elections. The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 witnessed the highest turnout in 40 years. 61.6% of the voting age population cast ballots; Democrats swept into power that year winning control of both houses of Congress. When Obama was re-elected in 2012, 58% voted. In the 2010 mid-term election, only 41% of the eligible voting age population voted. In that year, Republicans captured the House of Representatives and swept to power in many state capitols. In the 2014 mid-term election, 36% voted. It was the lowest turnout since 1942 – 72 years ago. Republicans not only won control of the Senate but also significantly increased their majority in the House. They also won a number gubernatorial seats previously held by Democrats including Bruce Rauner in Illinois. Low turnouts favor the Republican Party. It is no secret why Republicans have passed laws designed to make voting more difficult. The rationale for these laws is to prevent voter fraud even though there is very little evidence to support claims of voter irregularity.

Eligible voters must take the initiative to register themselves in order to vote. In the U.S., about 25% of the eligible voting age population is not registered. Coupled with the fact that many registered voters do not cast ballots, the U.S. has very low turnouts. Many nations automatically register their voting age citizens. Except for California and Oregon, there is no automatic registration in the U.S. Naturally, Republican legislators voted in unison against the laws that established automatic registration in these two states.

The low rate of registration coupled with the fact that so many registered voters do not show up accounts for the very poor turnouts. In the “huge” 2008 turnout, Obama received 52.9% of the ballots cast; he received just 32.6% of the eligible voters. In 2014, 40.2% voted. Republican Bruce Rauner won 50.27% of the ballots cast; he was elected governor by just 20.2% of the eligible voting age population.

Voter registration and turnout correlates directly with the age of the voters. Those 65 and older are most likely show up at the polls; 18-34 years olds are the least likely to be registered and to vote. In 2014, 59.4% of seniors 65 years and older voted; only 23.1% of those 18- 34 years old cast ballots. Democrats would gain the most by increasing voter participation, especially among younger Americans. According to the Gallup Poll, “Only around 20% of young Americans below the age of 25 identify as Republicans…. Democrats are quite strong among the youngest Americans, particularly those under age 24, among whom more identify as Democrats than independents.” If the Democrats are going to do well in the November election, they should encourage younger voters to register and to vote.

The low rate of registration, in itself, does not explain why so many young voters do not vote. In the past, political campaigns have not focused on issues that win over younger voters. The 2016 election could be different. Bernie Sanders is turning out huge crowds by campaigning on issues that resonate with young voters. Climate change, student debt, war and peace, social justice, economic inequality, and the corruption of big money in politics are major concerns especially among younger Americans. Sander’s success points out the importance of getting young voters to the polls in November. No matter who wins the presidential nomination, Democrats need to campaign on these issues to court these young voters. There will likely be a very large turnout in November since so much is at stake that will impact on their lives.

What is needed is voter registration drives in Illinois high schools, community colleges and universities. Since students are the least likely group of eligible voters to be registered and to vote, it makes sense to encourage the young, voting age population to register. The Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Chicago Teachers Union, and AFSCME have direct access to voting age students through their unions. High school social studies teachers could organize registration efforts as civic engagement projects this spring and next fall. Higher education unions could set up registration tables on campuses across the state.

In Illinois, it is now easier to register than ever before. The state has same day registration as well as online registration. Online registration only takes a few minutes. It can be done on a computer or cell phone.

How to Become Eligible to Vote: It’s Easy!

Go to https://ova.elections.il.gov

To vote in Illinois:

  • You must be a United States citizen.
  • You must be 18 on or before the date of the General Election.
  • You must live in your election precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day.

To register online, you will need:

  • An Illinois Driver’s License or an Illinois State ID.
  • The last four digits of your Social Security number.

It only takes a few minutes to exercise your citizenship rights. Your future is at stake. Remember: whether or not you’re interested in politics, politics is interested in you.